Someone or Something Frustrating You?
Repeat this 5 times –
Repeat this 5 times –
Each day, when the children leave my class, I ask them to think of 3 things that made them happy. From experience, parents often tell me that when they ask their child what they’ve done quite often the reply is ‘nothing, ‘dunno’ can’t remember’
What 3 things have made you HAPPY today? Even if you can’t think of anything you are still creating an upward happy spiral and sending out the good hormones in your brain!
Ask your kids at the dinner table later, during bathtime or maybe at bedtime and share with them too. You might say ‘you made me me feel happy, the sun shone, I saw a bird flying, a flower blew in the breeze’
You might enjoy keeping a family happyness journal, writing post its or making a Happy Families art gallery!
If they really struggle to think of happy things that’s OK don’t push it, just keep modelling how to. And if they are ‘negative’ allow them to be so, it’s still positive that they are talking to you. Simply acknowledge their feelings ‘yes I can see you are frustrated.. sad… unhappy… give them a space and listening to talk.
Creating this space will allow the happy thoughts to come to the surface when they are ready.
I’m running a Family Workshop in September with AyPee –
Why not pause and notice the softness and stillness of the space you are in right now.
Pause, breathe, gradually quieten your mind and body and give your soul some peace and quiet to allow the silence to ‘source’ creative solutions to the frustrations in your life.
Listen to this silent song for 4 minutes the composer claimed it was his favourite piece of work – 4’33’
Are you interested in meditation? Do you have a regular practice? Would you like to give it a go but are not sure how to? I’ve heard friends say they just can’t do it, it’s impossible not to think and it’s boring!
I’ve written this as another one of my ‘How I‘ blogs and and not a ‘How To‘, with the intention that it might just give you the nudge to get started. At times, yes meditation can be boring so you explore ways to sit with the boredom, in the same way you’ll discover ays to ‘be’ with the upsets, the joy, the anger, the frustrations etc
Yes. Some days I meditate for just 20 minutes and when I do my day flows well, I am more present with the ups and downs, I’m calmer with my kids and the ones I teach, and I notice I manifest more positivity. Stuff still goes on and things piss me off but for some reason it never matters so much and I’m less likely to get caught up in the drama in a negative way. I’m more neutral and sure of who I am and how I am being around it.
I wake up early anyway, so often go downstairs to the sofa cross my legs, close my eyes and just breathe and ‘be’. It is an effort because I want to do lots of other things at the same time, plus it’s cold, dark and boring to sit on the sofa on my own, yet I have so learned to love and cherish this peace and quiet and the benefits it brings. If I lay in bed it’s not quite the same as sitting up awake and present to what’s going on.
I have practiced yoga for 25 years and always enjoyed the corpse relaxation pose at the end, but never quite unerstood ‘meditation’ until about 4 years ago and now life wouldn’t ‘be’ the same.
When I was teaching out in Tanzania the school paid for me to go on a course to learn how to teach mindfulness. This week I was reading through some of the notes I took from my mentor Adam from Mindspace, and they served as a good re-MIND-er for me –
If you’d like to learn How To there’s many apps out there to get you going, courses, lots of great books which I can also recommend, and I can also guide you.
However, if this all sounds like a lot to do why not do what I do and just sit now and close your eyes and breathe and notice. And when you notice what you notice, notice a bit more and just be with what you notice. After a while you may like to just be with your breathing – in and out, in and out, in and out, in and out, in and out, and the rise and fall of your chest, the weight of your body on the chair, the touch of your skin on your clothes.
If you notice other things too like being bored, that’s OK, just notice when you do and then notice your breath again.
Try this for a while and notice whether you’d like to do it again another time and read this again as a re-MIND-er.
I slipped into a How To but it’s also How I.
You may like to come along to my talk here.
Your children can learn simple ways to be calm, connected and emotionally balanced. It is very easy to do.
Recently I visited a school and Brownie Pack. I shared ideas with the children of ways to create changes of ‘state’ in our minds and bodies and how we get in a state in the first place!
I taught them how to create more energy and enthusiasm when they feel tired and ways to be calmer when they feel wired.
I was able to demonstrate how self-talk influenced their results. Words they say to themselves influence how they feel and how their body also has it’s own language which influences them both negatively and positively.
These are some of the techniques I shared with the teachers and children in school today which you might also enjoy at home. It takes just 5 minutes here and there…
Just Listen – Sitting with legs crossed, Close your eyes or gaze at a spot on the floor and just listen to the sounds in our bodies then take this listening to sounds which are nearby and outside.
Some of the children sat quietly and others found it hard to be still and quiet, with regular practice children notice more sounds and sit listening for longer periods of time. It’s also good to write down the sounds and see over time how many more can be added to the list.
Walking Tall –walk tall with smiles on your face. When we meet each other, stop, breath and smile.
This activity was fun for the children and helped them to enjoy and notice each other more and gain awareness of what was going on around them in the present moment. They got ‘present’.
Body Tapping – tap your bodies from head to toe and then use an imaginary sponge to rub your arms, backs, tummies, legs and feet and noticed how your bodies tingle afterwards. Notice how this improves your circulation, raises your energy levels and wakes you up.
This is a great exercise to do in the mornings.
Movement – I weaved in a yoga story too with 5 simple moves, I’ve written about ways to implement yoga into family life before here
Square breathing – I drew a square on the board, at home I draw a pretend square on my children’s backs, and then I traced along the square with my finger and as I did this we breathed in slowly for 4 and out for 4, this can be repeated for as long as you like, there are no rules.
After each exercise I asked the children and teachers to notice how they feel. Some said they felt calmer, relaxed and sleepy whilst some said they didn’t feel any different. There are no wrong or right answers, it was for them simply to bring awareness to the experiences.
So you probably now realise how simple it is for your children to learn how to be calm, connected and emotionally balanced and just how easy it is to do. And when we do these activities alongside them we create this in ourselves too.
I support schools, businesses, families, children, groups and individuals who are feeling frustrated. I am presenting a talk entitled ‘How I Help Adults and Children Relax’ on the 6th June in Guildford details here, a Contented Parenting workshop for frustrated parents in September details here a Mindfulness For All session here and co presenting with AyPee a Social Media support session for people frustrated with Social Media in September.
Do you enjoy mealtimes together as a family, do you even have time to sit together, are you happy with the food choices you make and feel you have good variety and balance, is eating with your kids an enjoyable, relaxed experience?
The knock on effect of eating together isn’t just that kids usually eat more healthily, studies have found there’s a whole host of other benefits including reduced stress, good mental health, improved grades, saving money, better family relationships and greater happiness, more here.
Its not always easy though for us to eat together, life is busy with work, busy-ness, kids’ activities and maybe our kids aren’t great eaters, are getting on our nerves, and we don’t actually want to sit with them as it’s stressful!
All kids go through stages of ‘fussing’ over food and it’s during these times that we may unitentionally reinforce it, so they end up with longer term picky eating habits. I once had a friend who for years at every meal ate only marmite sandwiches, luckily he survived and made it to adulthood and is now running marathons!
I’ve spoken to a number of parents whose kids eat well and their reasons for this resonate with mine, so I’ve created this blog with the intention it gives some fresh ideas to parents finding mealtimes a chore and who would like to sit together and communicate and connect more over meals and enjoy it more. It’s not a ‘How To’ blog it’s a ‘How I‘ and what has worked for us.
I’ve been teaching for 20 years and during lunchbreaks have seen many school kids pushing their food around their plates, pulling pained expressions that we are poisoning them with carrots, exclaiming the sauce is yucky, and the mashed potato is weird and makes them feel sick. They find it hard to control their cutlery and can’t wait to get away from the table and nor can the lunchtime staff who pace around with their cloths, waiting for the next year groups to take their places on the benches.
Once in school I discovered a child had hidden the food he didn’t want on his friend’s plate, I felt sad that he felt pressured to do this. Often adults with the best intentions feel that kids ‘should’ eat all their food and it becomes another negotiation situation – ‘If you eat your peas you can have your pudding, two more mouthfuls and you can go out to play’ and the kids become agitated around their food and the adults anxious and controlling. Is it possible to be more relaxed about eating if we’ve already created an issue over it?
Underlying all I have written below is looking for opportunities to give autonomy to our children. Think – can I allow my child to make the decision, is there a place for choice here? By allowing our child more autonomy we give them some space to be and to take ownership of their eating. By including them in our family food decisions we can significantly relax our control and boundaries and we may discover our children become more relaxed across other areas of their lives, so these values are transferable.
Along the way, I’ve been lucky to inherit a number of step sisters and brothers and a wonderful sister in law, all with children older than mine. I’ve observed their highs and lows and model what works well for them and this gives me confidence too to make mistakes, try things out and know that it all works out when you trust and expect it to. I think as parents we lack this connection with other role models and often feel isolated and insecure trying to work things out for ourselves, whilst being bombarded and confused by all the advice out there, including this!
As often as possible, when my kids were babies I ate with them. This also included snacks and drinks, so I experienced hunger at the same time as them. We’d sit down at around 5.00pm for our tea and then I’d probably eat another meal later too. To start with I did mush and puree their baby food. I even went on holiday once with my steamer and ice-cube trays to freeze bloody butternut squash and sweet potato, no way was my child having a jar or packet. Then the second came and I was bored of steaming, the novelty and excitement had worn off, I didn’t care what anyone else thought and I was more realistic. My second child pretty much ate the same food as us from 6 months minus the salt, she made a complete mess yet it was fun and sociable and she didn’t turn much down.
Throughout their childhood we’ve continued to eat together and now they are older we still sit at the table together at least once a day. It might be breakfast before school and if clubs aren’t on we’ll eat together at teatime too which often falls anytime between 5.00pm and 7.00pm. Life is busier in new ways now with more time spent on screens, hobbies, and playing with their friends up the road. My husband usually returns from work at 9.30pm, so on the days he is home we all eat breakfast and an evening meal together and catch up.
When they were babies I never did the ‘chocho’ train thing with the fork in my hand, infact I rarely had the fork in my hand it was always in theirs or they used their fingers. They were never rewarded with pudding if they ate all their food. I also have a strong aversion to sticker reward charts – and have studied lots of motivational theories over the past 25 years, following on from my studies in psychology and education, that align with this wayward thinking – if they didn’t eat I just let it go without a fuss or eyebrow raise. If they did eat I did the same, I wasn’t attached to any outcome. I enjoyed being at the table with them, food wasn’t the priority, table conversation and connection was.
Our food is varied with different textures and colours. Some days the children eat it all, others they just pick, often it depends on if they’ve had a snack too close to teatime or guzzled on juice. I have a jug of water on the table at teatimes as I find juice/squash fills them too much and reduces their appetite and then they are ‘starving’ an hour later!
I usually put food into serving bowls at the table, so they can just help themselves to what they fancy and measure their own portions too. There might also be bread & butter, cheese, crackers and salad on offer.
When they are going through picky phases, I still put the food out in the bowls and just let them be and go with the flow, it’s there if they want it. If there are foods they’ve not enjoyed before these continue to be put out until eventually they tuck in.
We all sit down on Sundays together and go through our calendars and planners, again a lovely time to connect and communicate as a family. We often write down meals we would all like for the week too, these are a balance of freshly prepared and shop bought.
I cooked a lot when they were little, I was busy running around after them, counting down to their next nap times and feeling creatively underwhelmed, so used to get excited about planning meals and went to bed reading cookery books! Then I moved onto growing vegetables and knew most potato varieties, now it’s other random projects.
I encouraged the children to join in with cooking as often as possible, such as squeezing oranges, grating cheese, making fruit crumbles and teaching them how to handle knives to chop. They soon learned how to make scrambled eggs, toast and open a tin of baked beans. They know how the oven and grill work and if I am out they will cook something for themselves and if I’m really lucky something for me too. We’re working on washing up. I’m not home in the days so much now as I returned to working more, so there are a couple of quick pasta and pie dishes each week for an easy life.
Since they were very young they’ve created their own shopping lists. In the early days this really made learning to read and write meaningful, their pictures and words didn’t need to make sense it was just part of the process. They’d run along the aisles on their own to find things and again this gave them a sense of autonomy and shopping was always fun, we also gave opportunities to pay with real money as often as possible so they began to understand the value of it. They still do get involved with shopping and pack the bags with me and key in my pin number at the checkout. They also enjoy spending their own money on tat from the toy and sweet sections. When we get home they unload and unpack into the fridge and cupboards too, surprisingly without a fuss, it’s actually fun doing this together.
At most stages of the shop to table chain they are involved and engaged.
They go through stages of eating crap, and I don’t cook from fresh each night. It’s when I become aware of this that I put out healthier snacks as well to compensate such as nuts, dates, chopped apple, cubed cheese, falafels, raisins, grapes, oatcakes, ricecakes topped with humus, chopped peppers, celery, carrots etc. We do have crisps and chocolate in the cupboards which they and I would always choose first so I provide a ‘balance’ of choices.
Many kids don’t know where food comes from. We’ve been priviledged to grow vegetables at our allotment for the past 12 years, so the kids have been able to sow, grow and eat from scratch.
If you don’t have access to a garden or the opportunity to plant a few seeds maybe see if you can visit a friend who does, an allotment, garden centre or working farm. Most schools do have gardening projects, however I would say it can be rather tokenistic and dependent on the energy and enthusiasm of the staff member in charge (they have soo much other admin imposed on them, usually tipped towards Maths and English, outdoor learning gets given a low priority). My kids’ School Council is very engaged with the school gardens, so it may be your school has similar or you start up a gardening club yourself! Look also at food labels with them and world maps to plot which country food has come from and watch Youtube clips, here’s a clip for starters.
I’d really enjoy hearing from you and find out what inspires your children to eat well as it would be great to share it with children, schools and parents. I obviously haven’t covered everything here, and hope it gives you some alternative ideas to try out. Please do comment below.
Yesterday my son was talking to me (well at me), we were on our way to karate and he was really excited about moving up a level to ‘spar‘ and spent a looooong time telling me all about it. I was distracted, my mind was elsewhere on work and actually hands up, I was a little bored of listening!
I took a breath and acknowledged to myself that I wasn’t with him and set an intention to BE present and enjoy his company, despite the uninsparring conversation.
I parked the car, looked at him and checked in to where we both were, I breathed with him and tilted my head to match his tilt, I listened to his words and brought myself to the present moment and engaged more with his excitement and enthusiasm, I noticed my 12 year old boy-man. I became present to BEing with him, I sensed his energy and he bought me home again, we relaxed together, his conversation slowed and he noticed me too.
Tonight he has been teaching me how to play a PS4 game called OverWatch and again I was rather distracted and keen to get on with making tea! I once again connected with him and enjoyed his joy at spending time with me, and just how excited he was to teach me how to be in his virtual world and once more guide me out of mine.
Come learn how we use our BE SAY DO HAVE Ⓒ model and join in the conversation –